Steampunk fashion is all about possibilities. At the beginning of this year, I sat at a tea shop with Katherine Gleason, sipping our brew and speculating about what we’d like to see in a fashion book. We wanted something more than just rehashing whatever you’d find after Googling “steampunk.” We wanted to show the dynamic potential of steampunk fashion — that it was more than neo-Victorian. More than skinny pale waifs. More than looking or acting a certain way. More than reinforcing the value of a colonialist past.
And it was definitely more than Victorian science fiction.
By demanding “more,” a host of a questions presented themselves. Where does steampunk fashion come from? And when? Made by who? And, of course, how can novices and dabblers join in on the fun?
Over the course of the year, I’ve had the pleasure to see this book develop, and on the eve of its publication, one lesson can be taken from this. Fashion cannot be a summation of things — it is a compilation of creation. More than OMG that dress, but OMG that designer! That model! That performer! That person!
This is the connection between good fashion and good fiction: both tell stories about people that draw you in.
I hope you enjoy discovering these stories. Katherine and the talented contributors she worked with are more than just names and faces, but highly imaginative individuals who are offering pieces of themselves. They come from all walks of life: high-end designers and professional artists to cosplayers to hobbyists to street performers and protesters. There are people of color (as designers, models and performers!), people young and old, people of different abilities, people from all over the globe. Their joys, their lives, and their dreams are the parts that build an Anatomy of Steampunk.
Two excerpts from the book are below. The first is the Foreword written by K.W. Jeter, the science fiction author who coined “steampunk”, and my Introduction to the book. The second is a Beyond Victoriana exclusive sneak-peek of what else this book has to offer.